One of the largest countries in Asia and 37th largest in the world, Turkey is situated between the Mediterranean to the south and the Black Sea to the north, and is one of the few countries in the world lying on two continents.
A considerable proportion of Turkey’s population (77%) lives in urban areas, with around one in six residing in Istanbul alone. For nearly 2,000 years, the land which is now called Turkey, has been witness to the sight and sound of Christian praise. The church in Turkey has passed through periods of peak and decline and, until the nineteenth century, very little attempt was made by Christians to reach Turkish Muslims with the good news.
The work of the gospel in Turkey has proceeded slowly but surely, with many foreign workers being arrested or deported in the 1960’s and 1970’s. From a handful of Muslim-background believers in the whole of Turkey in the early 1960’s, the number had reached approximately 4,000 by 2010 and may be as high as 8,000 today.
The last 30 years have seen many positive developments in terms of Christian outreach in Turkey. We can now speak of a second generation of believers as the children born into Christian families are growing up and getting involved in Christian outreach themselves, including using the internet to disseminate high-quality Biblical material. Many churches now have local pastors and leaders, and a successful Bible training programme operates in ten cities, helping to strengthen local believers for roles in their churches and for outreach into the regions where as yet there is no church. Churches which are more established are actively doing church planting in the smaller towns nearest to them.
200 foreign Christian workers have been refused visa renewals in the past few years.
There continue to be many challenges. Many who profess faith in Christ, and are baptised, sadly fall away over time. While discipleship programmes are in place, there are often insufficient numbers of mature believers to walk alongside the newly converted ones. Visas for foreigners have become harder to obtain and over 200 foreign Christian workers have been refused visa renewals in the past few years. Churches are also rarely able to obtain the necessary paperwork to make their buildings official church buildings.
Please pray for …
- the Lord to raise up gifted local preachers and teachers that the churches may be fed and equipped
- the provinces in Turkey where there is as yet no church to soon become places where the Light shines
- young believers to become strong in the faith and willing to devote themselves to the cause of the gospel
- unity amongst churches in Turkey and for a willingness for believers to humbly and lovingly serve one another
Facts and stats about Turkey
According to joshuaproject.net the main belief systems in this land are split this way:
- 96.2% Islam
- 0.7% Christian (0.04% evangelical)
- 0.1% Non-religious
- >0.1% Ethnic religions
- 87 million people
- a culture that tends to be emotional & expressive
- a nation of tea-drinkers! Tea is a treat and is drunk all the time. It is considered very impolite to refuse a cuppa
- notorious for car-honking including for special events
And finally, you will need a cezve to make Turkish coffee. Add sugar, water, place over a small flame and watch it heat up. Collect the froth/foam for your cup.
Sources: worldometer.info, joshuaproject.net